We live in a world where we often find ourselves taking part in customs that are so old we have no idea what their origins are. What’s more, most of us never even bother to ask the question: “Waaaaaaaait a minute. What the hell is this all about anyway?”
That’s exactly the question I thought to myself a few moments ago when I watched the commercial for Breathe Right™ nasal strips and fantasized about marrying the hot piece that stars in it. As Sophia Petrillo would start her stories on The Golden Girls: “Picture it … me and that hot piece from the Breathe Right™ commercial on our wedding day … me and the hot piece stare deeply into each other’s eyes … the hot piece takes my left hand and puts a ring on it … and we breathe happily ever after as the hot piece whisks me off on a private jet for a sunset flight to the San Francisco Opera where we’ll watch ‘Pirates of Penzance’ … just like that scene in ‘Pretty Woman’ with Lauren Wood’s ‘Fallen’ playing in the background.” But seriously though, I got to thinking — what is it about that 3rd finger on the left hand that makes it so special? After doing some research I found out it dates back all the way to ancient Greece:
“Before medical science discovered how the circulatory system functioned, people believed that a vein of blood ran directly from the third finger on the left hand to the heart (this belief allegedly dates to the 3rd century BC in Greece). Because of the hand-heart connection, people named the putative vein descriptively vena amori, Latin for ‘the vein of love’. Due to this tradition, it became accepted to wear the wedding ring on this finger. By wearing rings on the third finger of their left hands, a married couple symbolically declares their eternal love for each other. This has now become a matter of tradition and etiquette.”
But the funny thing about customs like this is that even though we know they’re based on stupid reasons, we still find ourselves living them out. And as for that “love vein” thing, everybody knows it’s not in the 3rd finger of the left hand. For gay man at least, it’s somewhere much more private. So when me and Mr. Breathe Right (a.k.a. former soap opera star Mark Collier from As The World Turns) tie the knot, we might have to adjust our ring ceremony. Or we could save it for a private ceremony on the plane just between us.